Mental Health Matters – 28.4.22

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Despite the odd overnight frost and the sunshine and rain all within the space of an hour, which characterises April so well, spring is definitely in the air.

The days are growing longer and nature is waking up around us.

Transition times such as the changing of the seasons can be tricky for our wellbeing, particularly if it feels as though all around you is enjoying the coming back to life
after winter when you might be struggling.

Here are some ideas for using the Five Ways to Wellbeing this spring to help you if you are finding things tough.

Connect – We live in a corner of the country which can be very quiet during the winter but often feels overwhelmingly busy during the spring and summer months – particularly after the couple of years we have been through when staying away from others was encouraged rather than mixing and mingling. The busyness of our roads, villages and towns can be a bit of a shock.

It does mean that finally we are able to get together with people outside of our own bubbles once more, though, and spending time with other people is a huge boost to our health and wellbeing.

From meeting a friend for coffee, joining a club or regular event, or simply making a point of smiling and exchanging pleasantries with people as you walk past them, interacting with our fellow humans is an opportunity not to be missed.

Be active – We live in the outdoor capital of the UK and all of those exciting ways to engage with the outdoors are not just for visitors, they are here on our doorstep for us locals to enjoy too.

From wildlife watching to gardening, taking on a new exercise challenge such as biking,
running, wild swimming, paddle boarding or kayaking, there is bound to be something to get your heartrate up and your senses engaged this spring.

Take notice – Spotting the tiny details in a mindful manner is great for reducing anxiety, focusing attention, improving memory and giving a noisy mind something to quieten it down.

From journaling about your wild flower or bird spotting to taking photographs of sunrises and sunsets spring offers a whole host of ways to really notice the small stuff.

Learn – Spring is the perfect time of year to learn something new.

Maybe you have always been curious about foraging – nettles and wild garlic are in abundance just now and with some help to spot them if you are not sure they are easy to find. You can also find a whole range of easy recipes to enjoy them, from soup and tea to making pesto. A boost for the brain and a healthy dose of fresh spring flavours too.

Give – There are a whole host of ways to get involved in helping at this time of year.

Many towns and villages are having clear-up events to collect litter, freshen up shared spaces and get ready for visitors.

There are also plenty of interesting citizen science projects to get involved with, from recording your sightings of insects or bird life to monitoring flora and fauna.

If a more organised volunteering role is your thing then why not get in touch with your favoured local charity or organisation to see what volunteering opportunities they may have.

Finally remember that it’s OK to not be OK and that if you need a bit of extra support there are always people to listen and to offer support.

Local and national mental health and wellbeing charities all offer regular online and in person meetings, telephone and text support lines or drop in sessions in areas all across Lochaber and Oban.